How we meet best practice
The MSC meets the highest benchmarks for credible certification and ecolabelling programs, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization guidelines and the ISEAL Code of Good Practice.
This ensures that MSC offers the world’s leading certification program for sustainable wild-capture seafood. We follow international, professional benchmarks to promote robust processes and uphold our values of independence, transparency, impartiality and stakeholder consultation.
We also offer the world’s only seafood certification and ecolabelling program that is consistent with all of the following international norms:
The MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing is based in part on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations’ Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing (CCRF). The Code was established in 1995 as a framework for international efforts to encourage fishing activity that is sustainable and in harmony with the environment. It provides principles and standards for the conservation, management and development of fisheries around the world.
The MSC program is fully consistent with this internationally-agreed set of principles for a credible fishery certification and ecolabelling scheme. The key points of these guidelines are that ecolabelling programs have:
- objective, third-party fishery assessment using scientific evidence
- transparent processes with built-in stakeholder consultation and objection procedures
- standards based on the three factors - sustainability of target species, ecosystems and management practices.
We achieved full consistency with these guidelines in September 2006.
The International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance is an association of leading international organisations that set standards for social and environmental issues. To qualify for membership, organisations must verify they have the highest standards of credibility by meeting the ISEAL Code of Good Practice. This requires that,
- standards are set in open, transparent, participatory processes
- there is a demonstrable need for the standard
- there are measures to ensure that even the most marginalised stakeholders have a say in the standard's development.
Standards and other regulations can sometimes create obstacles to international trade, known as Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs). These cause inequalities by preventing some countries from participating in and benefitting from international trade –The World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement exists to ensure that standards do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade. ISEAL has sought a legal opinion from the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL) which confirms that all organisations consistent with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice, are not TBTs.
ISEAL/CIEL legal opinion (ISEAL website)
World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (WTO website)
“...the French authority, FranceAgriMer conducted an evaluation of existing ecolabelling schemes […]; it concluded that MSC was the only scheme consistent with the FAO guidelines.”
Proceedings of the Round Table on Ecolabelling and Certification in the Fisheries Sector
The Hague, The Netherlands, April 2009